What You Do Before the Trip is Just as Important as What You Do During the Trip
If you have taken a mission trip with students, you inevitably have encountered a student or two who was on the trip FOR THE WRONG REASON! Whether he was just following after a girl or she was fulfilling her service hours requirement for school, there are students who go on mission trips for numerous reasons other than serving the Lord and His people. What do you do with these students?
Maybe the answer comes months earlier, before the trip, when they signed up. Maybe there is an opportunity for them to hear the purpose of the trip, what they will be doing and what is expected of them. Maybe they are even given certain responsibilities on the trip that they can focus on and, in turn, having a sense of ownership and reap so much more from the trip. That’s a lot of maybes. All of these maybes can become definites if the right preparation is done before the trip. Here are a few tips:
Assess the strengths of your students/leaders
There are some things that just need to happen. Someone needs to take pictures. Someone needs to be in charge of meals, snacks, etc. These are great responsibilities for students to take on. But sometimes you might have students who really excel in certain areas. If you are doing a Kids Camp or VBS type mission, you might have a varsity soccer player be in charge of “soccer camp” during that activity. You might have a student who is an amazing singer assist in leading worship or at least be a part of the worship setup team and allow them to pick the songs you sing during worship.
Spiritual Gifts Inventory
Many youth ministries have their students fill out Spiritual Gifts Tests when they are discussing it as a lesson, but how about specifically doing it as part of your pre-trip training. There are some great free online tests that students can do and printable versions they can fill out while at church. These tests are designed to give your young missionaries an idea of what God has blessed them with so you can begin to discuss how they can use it for His glory.
Most teenagers have never come in contact with an extremely impoverished or poor people group. They mean well, but often times their efforts and actions are seen as rude and obnoxious. Some pre-trip training on cultural sensitivity would go a long way. On our overseas trips, we often use the phrase “Ugly American” to describe how people from other countries might see us. We often act crazy and loud because we are excited about the trip. We want to make sure we don’t hinder our witness and how others see us because of our actions.